Table of Contents:
- Ions and Health
- Air ionization is a natural phenomenon
- Air pollution and negative ions
- Do ions influence human behavior?
- Negative Ions Reduce Free Serotonin
- Bronchial asthma
- Clinical Trials and Success With Ion Therapy
- Health problems and environment
- Serotonin Irritation Syndrome
- Who benefits from negative ions?
The next paragraphs below are an excerpt from research conducted by Dr. I. Hawkins, Krueger, Sulman and other scientists into health problems and what effects ionization with negative ions had on the subjects.
Pioneers in the field of electricity in the last century were also the first researchers to consider a possible link between air electricity and biological effects. The fact that there is an important significant link between air electricity or ions and living systems is no longer a subject of discussion.
Research conducted over the last several decades has provided convincing evidence that air ions play a strongly underestimated role in general health, in aetiology (causative factors) and in the treatment of allergies, respiratory diseases and psychological complaints.
The purpose of this page is to summarise the progress made in this area and to present some important findings.
In nature, a small part of the air molecules has an electrical charge. These charged molecules are called air ions and have either a positive charge or a negative charge.
If the positive ions predominate or if the total number of ions drops to a low level, discomfort and decreased efficiency in activity can be observed.
On the other hand, people may experience increased mental alertness, efficiency and improved psychological well-being if the negative ion concentration is above a certain level (about 1000 ions per cm3 of air).
Only ions with a certain diameter appear to have a biological effect. In fact, based on their size, ions are divided into the following 3 main types:
- Small ions: 0.001 - 0.003 microns in diameter
- Medium ions: 0.003 - 0.03 microns in diameter
- Large or long-vin ions: 0.03 - 0.01 microns in diameter
Note: 1 micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. Only small and medium ions have a biological effect.
Small air ions are continuously formed by natural energy sources such as radiation from radioactive elements in rocks and in the ground, ultraviolet light from the sun, electrical discharges or lightning and frictional electricity generated by rain, blown up sand, dust, snow and hail and by moving water. Clean, uncontaminated air contains 500 to 2,000 small and medium ions per cm3 with a ratio of approximately 1.2 : 1 positive to negative ions. The difference in concentration between positive and negative ions occurs because the earth is negatively charged with respect to the ionosphere. Because of this, negative ions are repelled from the earth, while positive ions are attracted to the earth's surface.
Air molecules are constantly in motion (Brownian motion) and a gaseous air ion that once formed will soon collide with adjacent air molecules or dust particles in the air and form a cluster. In this way, small ions form into biologically inactive large clusters. When large clusters exceed a certain mass, they will fall under the influence of gravity on the ground. Therefore, an air ion concentration will also be determined by the density of dust particles in the air.
In fact, air ion concentration is closely related to air pollution and is a significant indicator of air pollution levels. In polluted cities, the number of large ions increases drastically to a few million per cm3 of air while the number of small and medium sized, both positive and negative ions, that are biologically active, decreases drastically. Several other factors influence the number and ratio of charged ions present indoors. When outdoor air is pumped through metal ducts of an air conditioning system, it quickly loses its negative ions, and this effect is amplified by recirculation of air.
Negative ions disappear sooner because they are lighter and more volatile, leaving a preponderance of positive ions. Once in a room, the ions are influenced by dust particles transported by air and by the static surface loading of furniture, fabrics and equipment. Most plastic surfaces are positively charged, attracting negative ions and repelling positive ions back into the room. This results in a disturbance of the natural ion balance in favor of the positive ions. This is certainly the case for positively charged television and computer screens.
Related natural phenomena are the warm winds that blow in certain parts of the world at certain times of the year. In particular the Chinook in Canada, the Santa Ana in Southern California, the Fohn in Switzerland, the Mistral in France and the Sharav in Israel. The front of these winds is preceded by a high concentration of positive ions.
It is also known in the geographical areas mentioned above that just before the arrival of the wind front abnormally many cases of suicide, crime and accidents occur.
(In Israel, courts are even much more lenient towards offenders who committed crimes just before the arrival of the Sharav). Professor Sulman of the Department of Applied Pharmacology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Albert Krueger, M.D. Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of California at Berkely, were prompted by this phenomenon to investigate the influences of air ions on human physiology.
Both pioneers of ion research report that an environment in which positive ions predominate undermines the health and well-being of plants, animals and humans.
Positive ions reduce efficiency in psychomotor performance and in reaction time experiments. They exacerbate anxiety and disease such as asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, and migraine, while an abundance of negative ions improve psychomotor performance and the subjective psychological state and bring symptomatic relief from asthma, migraine, and bronchitis.
The mechanism by which ions exert their influence is not yet fully understood, but both Sulman and Krueger claim to have isolated the neurohormone serotonin (SH1) as an important factor. Krueger, Sulman and other researchers suggest that air ions enter the lungs during inhalation and end up in the bloodstream after penetration of the alveolar membranes. Once there, positive ions release serotonin from platelets. In addition, histamine and serotonin are separated from most cells in the tissues of the respiratory tract.
Negative ions reduce free serotonin in the blood by enzymatic oxidation of serotonin to its inactive metabolite 5 Hydroxyindol acetic acid (5HIAA) and prevent histamine secretion. There is good evidence to support these claims. For example, when Sulman studied the effects of the Sharav, he measured serotonin levels in his patients, found that they were high at the time of the Sharav and were responsible for most of the adverse symptoms experienced. He found that the arrival of the Sharav front increased the ratio of positive ions to negative ions in the atmosphere.
When he simulated these atmospheric conditions in his laboratory, he noticed that the same symptoms were produced. They could be eliminated by administering serotonin blocking drugs. The same symptoms could also be eliminated by negative ion therapy, which has the advantage of being free of side effects. In addition, negative ion therapy has been successfully used in the symptomatic relief of many ailments involving serotonin such as migraine, anxiety, hay fever, and especially asthma.
Bronchial asthma is characterized by an increase in airway resistance and due to three main factors:
- Contraction of smooth bronchus muscle tissue
- Oedema of the bronchial mucosa
- Increased bronchial secretion
- Extrinsic and intrinsic asthma
There are two types of asthma:
- extrinsic asthma, where the asthmatic attacks are clearly the result of an allergic reaction,
- and intrinsic asthma. This form, which is common in small children, cannot be associated with allergy. It is often aggravated by changes in the weather, colds or emotional stress.
In both forms, symptoms are transmitted by active endogenous pharmacological substances such as histamine, serotonin, and prostaglandin that directly affect the tissues of the respiratory tract. Ion researchers have suggested that an increase in the concentration of positive ions may be a direct cause of intrinsic asthma (and migraine).
Kruger and Smith have even shown that positive air ions cause an accumulation of serotonin in the respiratory tract. Serotonin is a very potent neurohormone that causes the respiratory symptoms of asthma. When the hormone enters the blood, it exacerbates the symptoms of the classic "Serotonin Initation Syndrome". Free serotonin releases adrenaline from the adrenal medulla and increases gastrointestinal activity.
In addition, it causes blood flow and leads to an increase in frequency and strength of the heartbeat. Serotonin in the brain has a profound effect on mood and subjective well-being. An increase in serotonin in the brain leads to depression. Furthermore, clinical studies have shown that an environment of positive ions provokes and exacerbates an asthmatic attack by reducing the efficiency of lung purification. An environment of negative ions led to immediate relief in the majority of subjects studied.
Nowadays, symptomimetic bronchodilatory drugs are used in the treatment of asthma. For very severe cases there are also steroidal anti-inflammatory drug preparations. However, as with all medications there is always a risk of unwanted side effects. Catecholamines often have unwanted cardiac effects and continued use of glucorticosteroids ultimately leads to the weakened state known as Cushings syndrome.
In clinical trials, negative ion therapy has been shown to be very successful in the symptomatic treatment of asthma, hay fever and bronchitis, without undesirable side effects. No amount of negative ions is harmful. The success of negative ion therapy can be explained on two grounds. First, artificial negative ionization purifies the air from smoke, pollen and bacteria by deposition of airborne particles, eliminating the causative agent of hay fever and extrinsic asthma.
Secondly, negative ions reduce the levels of free histamine and serotonin in the body and stimulate the movement of the vibrating hairs in the respiratory tract. In addition, negative ions neutralize positive ions in the environment which can be a direct cause of intrinsic asthma. Furthermore, Sulman reported that negative ions increase and synchronize alpha activity in the brain, and reduce anxiety and tension, which play a role in intrinsic asthma and migraine, as well as fatigue, stress, and loss of concentration.
Several office studies have shown that people who work in an environment without negative ions or with an abundance of positive ions complain of headaches, migraines, lack of concentration, drowsiness and general discomfort, which they attribute to the environment. Similarly, people shopping in indoor shopping malls and modern air-conditioned department stores often complain of these unpleasant symptoms. Many such situations have been improved by the use of negative ion generators.
In the working environment, this has resulted, among other things, in a striking reduction in absenteeism and in the human error score. In addition, increased mental alertness and improved subjective well-being have been observed. The reduction in absenteeism can be explained in two ways. Firstly, negative ionization provides a healthier, more pleasant working environment and secondly, the concentration of bacteria in the air is reduced, significantly reducing the risk of infection transmission.
In Great Britain, Dr. I. Hawkins, professor of human biology and health at the University of Surrey, is one of the leading researchers of ions and ionization. He has paid special attention to the relationship between air ions on the one hand and climate in the home and health on the other hand. Hawkins has measured ion levels in a wide variety of occupational settings. He found that "wherever a building is equipped with a ventilation system with metal ducts, total ion levels are reduced to an average of 700 positive and 200 negative ions per cm3 of air. Where other factors also play a role, such as high levels of static charges or particle pollution, we have not found measurable levels of ions or much higher levels of positive ions.
Dr. Hawkins has conducted numerous studies on the effect of the indoor "electro-climate" on human performance and well-being. He used commands of reaction speed, mirror images, etc. to measure performance and a questionnaire accompanied by an analogous subjective scoring scale to estimate well-being. From these double-blind studies, Hawkins concluded that a decrease in the number of negative ions or an increase in the number of positive ions causes an atmosphere that is valued as stuffy, muggy, dead, or musty.
In such an environment, a significant proportion of people will have headaches, feel irritated, and their psychological performance will be less than optimal. This type of environment will result in an increase of serotonin in the body tissue. On the other hand, negative ion generators appear to significantly improve psychological and psychomotor performance under laboratory conditions. They also increase subjective scores with respect to atmosphere and personal well-being. The importance of ion equilibrium also became apparent when scientists began to study the composition of air in artificial spaces such as spaceships and nuclear submarines.
Approximately 30% of the population is sensitive to changes in the weather. Such "weather sensitive" individuals will respond to hot, dry winds and positive air ions with the "Serotonin Irritation Syndrome". Individuals suffering from asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, and migraine are often sensitive indicators of changing weather conditions and changing atmospheric ion levels. This 30% of the population needs negative ions. Another 30% of the population feels better when the surrounding negative ion concentration is increased. Another 40% of the population does not notice any effects of negative ions. However, someone who does not need ionization will not be harmed by it.
Moreover, even if someone does not notice anything subjectively, negative ions can still cause physiological effects in them.
In addition, the ability of negative ionizers to purify the air from smoke and dust can easily be demonstrated. Therefore, it is beneficial for everyone, whether he notices it or not, to breathe healthy air. The 30% of the population that needs negative ions will notice the effects of an ionizer within minutes.
When we begin to change our environment by using artificial lighting, ventilation, heating, etc., we necessarily change the natural climate, possibly to such an extent that it is no longer compatible with our physiology, with all the resulting health problems.
The table below shows the results achieved with the use of ionizers in bedrooms compared to the reason for purchase. This research was conducted under the direction of Dr. Hawkins of the University of Surrey in England.
|disorder||purchase % *)||Improvement %||no change %||no statement
improvement not (yet) detected
|Mucous membrane infection||23,6||64||28||6|
|Nose cavity ignition||14,9||67||26||6|
|other chronic headaches||8,6||76||22||2|
|Rheumatism (or joint inflammation)||3,2||24||47||23|
*) The sum is more than 100% because individual buyers purchased ionizers for more than 1 reason.